The Time to Train?
I am often asked this question on both a personal level and by those who I coach. The question normally develops into a sequence of;
• How many hours a week did you say you train?
• How many kids did you say you have?
• How many hours do you work?…. you get the picture.
Over the past several years juggling my passion for long distance triathlon with a hectic life of 4 kids, a busy day job and coaching, I`ve learned along the way on how best to manage my time and maximize the time available to train. So here are a few quick guidelines to help those time crunched athletes among us.
Commuting – It may sound simple but incorporating some of your training into work commutes can really help lighten the training load. A few athletes I work with, myself included, can easily get a solid 4 to 5hrs training in a week completed, either doing “run mutes” or “bike mutes” as I`ve christened them. Quality work can be included even in a short time period. Only 30minutes available, then short but sharp VO2 intervals on the bike or run are a good way to get some beneficial training in.
Lunchtime – Another good way of getting some training in without impacting on family time and home life is the lunchtime session. Again most of us have at least a half hour to an hour to spare for lunch during the day. With a bit of planning, this gives a great way to provide a second slot for training. Again this can range from a short and intense 30min session or alternatively do core work, foam rolling, stretching, or general maintenance, obviously find a place away from peering work colleagues.
Scheduling – Most training fails due to poor scheduling. Get yourself a calendar or a diary and start planning the week ahead, of course always allow some flexibility in your training plan for those unplanned events. In the world of triathlon this will also mean checking the pool timetable to know what times are available and working around that.
Have a long bike or run to do, buy a good alarm clock and get used to setting your alarm clock early, or stupid o’clock as we like to call it. Get out and get back before the family realize you have disappeared for a few hours. Quality lights and hi-viz clothing are a must for training in dark or overcast conditions. If you struggle with scheduling the alternative is to hand over the scheduling to your coach, if you’re fortunate enough to have that luxury!
Preparation – When we talk about preparation we are not only referring to food preparation, but also gear preparation. For food, when you go shopping plan ahead and make sure you have food in the cupboard for the week. Betting caught short will invariably lead to unhealthy quick fix choices. Also plan your meals ahead, particularly lunches for work. Cook healthy meals in large batches and freeze them for the week ahead or a pot of soup will last a week in the fridge. Ideally of a Sunday get your meal plan sorted for the week ahead and be organized. In relation to training gear, have it set out the night before for early morning sessions. Also always have a set of swim, bike, run gear spare in the car for whenever an opportunity to train presents itself.
Equipment – If competing in triathlons a turbo is an essential piece of equipment, while a treadmill is an extremely useful piece of equipment to own. It goes without saying that indoor training is a huge time saver. It overcomes bad weather, there is no pausing at stop lights or interference from traffic. The other benefit is being able to dial the effort in without the variables of weather and terrain outside. Some great work can be put down doing focused indoor work only, as shown by Hawaii World Champion Daniela Ryf, who recently won IM 70.3 Dubai in January, having trained exclusively indoors while spent the winter in her native Switzerland.
In summary if you want to train, the time is there, you just need to plan properly and have good time management skills. We won’t discuss junk miles or using your time inefficiently…that’s a whole other different article we should save for another day.
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